Kingko KA-101. Experiences?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by murphythecat, May 28, 2017.

  1. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    King has informed me that the new colour plates have come in $55US each (including shipping) and a discount if you buy two. He is only making one batch of them so don't wait too long if you have interest.

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  2. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    The 5U4G is a directly heated triode, which means that it delivers full power to the other tubes in an instant. This is hard on the tubes. Indirectly heated tubes, like the GZ37, take a little time to deliver full power, providing in effect a sort of soft start.

    OK. I linked to a video in a previous thread but copying the content from the previous thread didn't work, so here is a link to the thread: Line Magnetic 518IA Integrated Amp and 502CA DAC
    Scroll a little down and look for post #339.
     
    MC Rag likes this.
  3. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Yes King said he'd ship out a new 5AR4 but I'm not sure I want to risk one of these stock Chinese generic ones again so I said no need.
     
  4. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Many thanks I've watched the video and now understand the basic principals here. I think I'll stick with my RCA 5U4G as the El84s are the stock Chinese and if they give out it'll give me an excuse to buy some better EL84s and then probably a nice NOS 5AR4/GZ34.
     
  5. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    The red plate is not for me (even though it would match my Ferrari red Fazon F5 speakers) but i might get a silver to give me the option to switch to a silver only CD player in future.
     
  6. martinb4

    martinb4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Irvine, California
    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Silver is the official color for Hi-Fi, black is for HT. It's all in the manual, look it up if you don't believe me.
     
    Tlay, SandAndGlass and Encore like this.
  7. martinb4

    martinb4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Irvine, California
    By the way, is it me or are those faceplates just layed on top of the old one? Why would you not just unscrew the old one first? Looks bad like that, everything is recessed and looks a little off...
     
  8. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Sounds like a sensible plan :) But I thought that it is the GZ37, which is a possible substitute for the 5U4G? I'm using GZ37 in my Audio Note Kit One, and AFAIK I can replace it with a 5U4G if I should wish.
     
  9. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    From my limited reading the GZ34 is exactly the same as 5AR4 which was what the amp shipped with. I've put in a 5U4G as the amp designer said this was fine and he felt it sounded better.

    Your GZ37 is probably closer to a 5U4G but with indirect startup, I guess I could use one of those too. www.thetubestore.com - Mullard GZ37 (CV378) Rectifier Tubes
     
  10. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I've asked for a red one and we'll see - though now that I look at them I think the Silver would match my AN M3 preamp and dac better

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  11. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I would probably go with the better sounding one - I bought the NOS RCA that King Recommended - a bigger rectifier - so big the tube cage doesn't fit. But it IMO sounds considerably better than the stock rectifier tube. Which is odd because I always thought the rectifier would have the least audible difference but there you go.

    As to tube life - well AN's life expectancy ratings are typically higher than I have seen from any other manufacturers - whether they get those life spans I can't say (who can) since it does depends on the specific tube - you can buy two Chinese 845s as what came with my 219IA - and one died in 2 months and the other lasted (and is still lasting in the new owner's home) for nearly 4 years. Tubes are lightbulbs - it's hard to predict. It's not bad Chinese manufacturing either - tubes eventually die including Western Electric 300B - and as I tell people - would you rather your $250 Chinese 300B fail or would you rather your $4000 WE 300B fail? You can buy a lot of tube replacements buying Chinese and some of them sound just as good.

    Anyway the Audio Note Jinro claims that the tubes should last 6000 hours for their 211. I was advised that my Line Magnetic 219IA tubes to expect 2000 hours. Basically similar tubes - LM has soft start - AN does not. So assuming that both of these numbers are in fact accurate and the 845 and 211 are similar large output tubes.

    Heck my AN Dac 0.1X they list the expected tube life as 100,000 hours or 11-12 years 24/7.

    Of course none of this means you won't get a lemon tube - nothing the manufacturer can do in that instance. Probably why they have a 3 month warranty - if you use the amp a lot in those three months and the tube doesn't fail it will probably last another 5+ years. So use the tube amp a lot the first few months to be sure the tubes are okay.

    Just find tubes that have a good reputation all around for sound and life and basically play the statistics. But have money to have two sets of tubes as a back-up.

    And this is also an important consideration when comparing two amplifiers - one amp may have top shelf very very expensive tubes and the other comes stock with very cheap tubes. Note that if you buy the first amp and the tubes go - to retain that sound may costs you $2000+ in tubes. The other amp to retain that sound when the tubes go may only cost $200.
     
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  12. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Well, those claims may then be very dependent on your pattern of use. I'm plagued enough by tube guilt as is, i.e. even with an indirectly heated rectifier tube--having a directly heated rectifier tube would make me think even more about whether or not to turn on my gear. I use current production power tubes, so it's not so much those that I'm worried about. It's my NOS pre and driver tubes that I would like to be as gentle on as I can.
     
  13. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Anyone think the Ko 101 could drive my SHL5 Plus?
     
  14. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Hi Murphy, I'm sure you've read my earlier posts, I've got the Kingko hooked up to some Dali Fazon F5 speakers which are about 86.5dB (official spec says 87.5d but I read it was lower on some Polish review test) and nominally 6 Ohms like the SHL5+. I used to have the Fazons hooked up to an AVI Lab Series amp which was about 180 watts into 8 ohms, 300 watts into 4 ohms and I think the Kingko drives the Fazons better, and with equally good bass response. That said I don't blast my music at high volume levels, and I have a bigger room than yours at approx. 14 x 24 x 7.5 and then open to my kitchen.

    I imagine the Kingko would have no problems driving the SHL5+ to medium levels in your room. I have no experience with Harbeth though.

    One thing I will say is that when I tried the Kingko with headphones I got quite a bit of noise, but seeing as 99.99% of the time I use speakers for my listening it is not an issue for me. Note: I know nothing about headphones so maybe the ones I have (AKG K550 mk1) are just not a good match with the Kingko.
     
  15. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    You really should not get noise from the headphone but there are a couple of suggestions King gave me - one is to make sure the amplifier is on the same line as the source you're using. Secondly you can plug your amp into a US to UK adaptor and then plug the UK adaptor into a US adaptor - it basically grounds the amplifier. I had slight noise - and the latter solution worked. But then I changed my connections around and the former worked.

    I use Sennheiser HD 600s which are now starting to fall apart (still 18 years is pretty good), and AKG M50 headphones. If you get no noise from the stereo and the solutions above don't work then it might be the resistor in the headphone amp portion which should be a cheap fix.

    As for the amp driving the Harbeth it depends on the impedance - the amp absolutely doesn't like the KEF LS-50. King also tried the KEF LS-50 to be his reference speaker to show off his amp - he dumped it. I know King really likes ATC though so presumably if it can drive ATC - Harbeth should be ok. Still when I look at speakers I tend to pay attention to what the designer of the speakers has to say - Allan Shaw is an all amplifiers sound the same camp and the more power on his speakers is always better. So he prefers 1000 watts per channel SS to 12 watt tube amps. In other words not putting square pegs down round holes. And since SS is next to worthless on the second hand market - you can get massive power power amps for dirt cheap - I don't say any of this to be a jerk or anything - I mean it's actually worth a try - besides I feel the preamp makes the most difference so spending more on the preamp and going with competent high power on the amp may drive the Low Sensitive Harbeth speakers better.

    It's not always about the best sounding amp but the best sounding system - and with a LE speaker you first have to power them "properly" before you can talk about sound quality. The trick is finding a good sounding High power amplifier - something I have not heard (at an affordable price) in 30 years. Maybe the new class D amps??? We'll see.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  16. Sonico

    Sonico Active Member

    Location:
    Macau
    One more happy customer from King here :)
    First things first: I know King Ip for a long time and I'm the one that bought the LM219ia from Richard.

    I live in Macau and I use to go quite often to Hong Kong and also Guangzhou to visit HiFi shops (and spend money against my wife's will!).
    Prices around here, as Richard already stated are ridiculously low and we have access to so many incredible products, that it gets difficult to just pick one and stick to it. But this little amplifier from King is a keeper!

    I was buying and selling and swapping until I bought the huge LM219 from Richard. That one is an amazing amplifier as we can read in all reviews. And I enjoyed it daily for about one year, until the day that I crossed two subjects and retrieved some conclusions: the affordable, cheap-maintenance KingKo KA101 and the very-expensive maintenance-for the rest of my life- LM219ia. The latter may be a bit (just a bit) better sounding, but at a prohibitive cost to my wallet. In the future I'd need to spend approximately 600,00 Euros (I'm from Portugal) to replace all tubes - keeping the same, not upgrading anything. Plus, this beast is huge and extremely heavy and expensive to ship anywhere. So when I compared the 219 with a KA101 side by side, I had no doubts: the "cute" KingKo (as the creator King Ip refers to it) is a better rational choice. And it really shines! All of you that already own it and compared its sound to other amplifiers, know what I'm talking about.
    Adding a stroke of luck - one guy that I recently met just fell in love with the LM219 and gave me good money for it - I visited King two weeks ago (beginning of March) and came home carrying my own KA101.

    I am using it with a pair of Zu Omen Def speakers and the synergy is fantastic!
    Meanwhile I ordered a pair of Omega Super 7 monitors (will arrive in three weeks) to connect to the KingKo, because I have other plans for the Zus and King Ip told me that the Omega are also a great choice.

    Regarding those who asked for a compatibility with Harbeths, King has a special version for it, you just have to email him and ask for details.

    About tubes and their sound: I spent one full afternoon at King's shop talking about it while swapping and listening to different tubes and the biggest/most audible difference is when we swapped the rectifier. Changing from the stock 5AR4 to the RCA 5U4G made everything sound stronger, fuller, like if the same music being played by a quartet was suddenly played by a symphonic orchestra. Of course I already bought one! and keep the stock tube as spare.

    A friend of mine went there just two days ago to buy one amplifier for himself and came home carrying a Westinghouse 5U4G. King didn't have that one when I was there, but my friend says it sounds even better!

    All in all this is a terrific amplifier at any price. I have others, SS and tubes, and maybe I'll keep swapping gear in the future, but not this one. This KingKo KA101 is a great little gem!
     
  17. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    I've got a Westinghouse 5U4G in my Kingko (for when there are no kids around and I can take the case off) plus an ADZAM (Mullard made) GZ34 for when the kids are rocking out to my music and the case is required for my sanity. The rest are 4 x Tungsram EL84, 2 X RCA 12AU7 & a Brimar 12AX7. All NOS, costing a total of about £130.

    Actually I think many of these Westinghouse tubes were actually made by RCA.

    I'll be interested in your thoughts on the Omega Super 7s, did you consider any of their tower speakers?

    When I was living in Hong Kong (1980s & 1990s) we used to jetfoil over to Macau for a bit of a change in the food scene, Fernando's and Clube Militar being favourites. :)
     
    Richard Austen likes this.
  18. Sonico

    Sonico Active Member

    Location:
    Macau
    MC Rag,
    interesting to hear that you enjoyed coming to Macau to eat at Fernando's and Clube Militar. Both places are still running and keep up with good quality for the money.
    But Macau is a lot different now. Many things changed since you were here and it is hardly recognizable (the big casinos changed the face - and daily life - of Macau). But still, this is one of the most interesting/weird/intriguing places on Earth!

    Answering to your question about the Omega speakers: I soon will be back to Portugal and I know exactly where the audio gear goes in my home there. The Zu speakers will be connected to class D monoblocks (Temple Audio) in the main living room. It's a very big room and the system will be used for home cinema, parties and background music all day long. The KA-101 will be placed in a smaller room that will be used as my personal office, for quality listening time. And because of space constraints, I have to go with shelf monitors, no room for floorstanders. And the Super 7's are the limit of my budget.
     
    MC Rag likes this.
  19. Ezd

    Ezd Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I just ordered a KA-101, it will be my first tube amp... Thanks for all your input on this amplifier Richard A.
    I have a decent ss system, which sounds good to me, but I now spend most of my time listening to vocalists, and many suggest low-powered tube excels here, time to decide for myself. I am looking forward to some listening comparison in my own home... After listening to the amp awhile, I will try the tube upgrades mentioned in this thread, if anyone has additional thoughts about tubes they liked, I would appreciate hearing about them.
    My current speakers do not match with low-wattage amps, and I will need to get speakers to use with 12 watts of el84 power. I do not currently have the space for large horn-based speakers, though in the future, I would like to spend time listening to Altecs, Klipsch heritage, or Speaker Lab horns, that many favor.
    I do need to get quality speakers in order to do a fair comparison against my Chapman Audio speakers and the mono-blocks powering them. I am hoping up to $1500 used, for high efficiency ones, provides a reasonable speaker for comparison. I will start by looking at Zu and Omega... One positive to living in a fairly large city (Seattle), there is a constant turnover of used audio equipment.
    I would mention to anyone considering this amp, I found the owner, Mr. King Ip, very helpful and pleasant to communicate with... At the current exchange rate, the cost is $843 US shipped to the door.
    One other thing I will mention, there is a little bit of confusion regarding the 12 watt power rating and the possibility of ordering a 15 watt version. There is no 15 watt version. The amplifier can be custom ordered with an additional set of 15 ohm speaker outputs.
     
    MC Rag likes this.
  20. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Well done. Interested to hear how it goes with whatever speakers you try it with.
     
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  21. StevenZ

    StevenZ Active Member

    Hi, I've purchased one of these amps from King and I was wondering if the Emission Labs 5U4G-mesh would work. Any thoughts? Also, I see you guys mentioning the RCA 5U4G, however all I can see on eBay is the 5U4GB. I'm assuming the GB is the incorrect version for this amp and that I should only be looking for "G" versions?

    Thanks,
    Steven
     
  22. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    I see quite a lot of RCA 5U4G tubes on Ebay (218 listings!) when I do a search:

    Item No. 123402225459 looks like an RCA to me though it's labelled CBS. It's real cheap and ends today. (I'd buy it if shipping to UK wasn't $55!!). My NOS Westinghouse/RCA cost $15.

    Item no. 123099491959 this guy seems to have quite a lot of 5U4Gs; and Item no. 142966842372 looks good.

    I'm sure the Emissions Labs would work but it's a mighty pricey tube, email King and check if you want to be sure.
     
  23. StevenZ

    StevenZ Active Member

    Thanks, not sure what I was searching for that wasn't bringing up correct results.

    In any case the amp arrives tomorrow. Will keep everyone updated.
     
  24. StevenZ

    StevenZ Active Member

    I will be comparing the amp to an Anaview AMS 2600-1000 with a Slagle AVC
     
  25. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    What speakers?
     

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